Monthly Archives: July 2013

Tam o’ Shanter Hits Kirkcudbright

Tam o’ Shanter Hits Kirkcudbright. If not in person he is here in paintings by Alexander Goudie on display over the summer season in our Town Hall —

Town Hall


The above painting signed by Goudie himself shows him take a degree of licence to my morning walk for my newspaper. No doubt along the lines that our Scottish bard Rabbie Burns took when describing Tam o’Shanter’s ride home from an Ayrshire pub —

in pub - Goudie

I’m no Burns Buff but I can imagine the story goes something like this.

After a few drams in his local tavern the bold Tam climbs on his horse and makes his way hame through the forest where the trees are gnarled and twisted by the winds off the sea —

Ayrshire Woods

All goes well until our mounted hero reaches the ruined church —

Approaching ruined church by Goudie

where countless ghouls and ghosties enter Tam’s imagination —

Moonlit Pursuit

Then it’s case of digging in the spurs and heading for home with the horde and harridans in hot pursuit —

The Chase

The chase goes on through briar and thicket —

The Hellish Legion

with the Hellish Legion on his tail —

The Final Stretch

until Tam reaches the Auld Brig —

In Retrospect

But in Retrospect you had best get along to Kirkcudbright Town Hall where Alec Goudie tells the whole story from the Burns poem as only he can —

Alec Goudie

For more of Goudie’s work visit Roxelle House, Alloway, Ayrshire who are the usual custodians of the Tam o’Shanter paintings that have been lent to Kirkcudbright for the Summer Exhibition.

With the bold Tam out of the way they might even have room to hang some of Goudie’s other work —

Alec Goudie bath scene

Alec certainly knew a thing or two about the female form.

Apologies to the Burns Scholars if I strayed from the script but I’ve been to the exhibition and it’s a cracker! Well worth a visit even if it is free to enter 🙂



Tam o’Shanter Hits Kirkcudbright

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Posted by on July 25, 2013 in out and about


Sunflower Stakes

Sunflower Stakes – I borrowed them from a friendly market gardener along with his 7lbs hammer and banged them in to support the plants just in time for there was a sudden change in the weather today. Yup – our three week long spell of glorious sunshine came to an abrupt end this morning and instead we had a violent storm with heavy rain – thunder and lightning.

With the tallest of the sunflowers now hitting the two metre mark and gaining more every day the long stakes did the job just fine and the plants were there in all there glory tonight —

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They look good from any angle —

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including this long shot —

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while the rest of the plants —

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are trying their hardest —

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to keep up —

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I may have waxed lyrical after my first sight of the Zen Garden in Glasgow at the weekend but this little patch of ground is still my favourite —

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and even the wild flowers alongside the wall are putting on a show —

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Magic 🙂



Sunflower Stakes

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Posted by on July 23, 2013 in out and about


Ross Island

Ross Island – no I didn’t get all the way over but I packed a flask of tea plus a few sandwiches and made an interesting circular walk round there this evening. I couldn’t resist this shot from the Stell across the marina as I pulled out of town —

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Then it was down to Ross Bay where I parked up at the farm and walked across the headland to the Irish Sea coast before turning east towards Ross Island. I have tried to make the small garden out front of my home butterfly friendly and have been concerned about the lack of butterflies. I needn’t have worried because with fewer cattle about I saw a myriad of butterflies tonight in the lightly grazed fields as I walked through.

Yep – fluttering butterflies and singing skylarks were all at play in and above the natural grassland full of wild flowers along the coastal strip in the late evening sunlight —

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Then it was a tussle over the shoulder of the hill through the rough thigh-high growth for a view of Ross Island —

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before taking a photo back along the estuary towards town —

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I’m heading for one of the stony mounds in the previous picture where I know there is a flat table top rock ideal for my picnic tea —

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H-mmm — this’ll do. Yes it’s the same rock I used for the original photo in my home page and I know I don’t look the same guy I was three – two – or even one year ago but that’s what comes of having an extra arsehole. It can become quite draining after a while —

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Oh well — let’s hope after all the carving and grafting they’ve been doing back there over the last few months that the Glasgow surgeons will be able to give me some final tucks this weekend —

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I had seen the Range boat anchored off the toe of Ross Island as a warning to visiting yachtsmen that the range was active so it wasn’t a surprise to hear the gruff staccato bark of a heavy machine gun at play on the military range at my back  I could only hope it wasn’t pointing my way as sure as shooting it wasn’t firing buckshot and would have spoiled my picnic had it come over 🙂

Time for one last lingering look over the island as I made my way across the fields —

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then it was time to put the cattle to bed —

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before heading on home myself —

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The cattle weren’t the only ones settling down for the night. As I passed Dhoon Bay I caught a glimpse of this interesting team who had been busking complete with bagpipes by the Harbour Square in town earlier in the day —

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Yes – there’s room for all in Kirkcudbright  🙂


Ross Island

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Posted by on July 16, 2013 in out and about


She Sells Sea Shells from the Sea Shore

She Sells Sea Shells from the Sea Shore – seems there’s a bit of truth in that tongue twister if the presence of a mighty barge in our lil old harbour is anything to go by. Scallops and Queenies and the harvesting and processing of them is probably the main local industry since the creamery across the bridge had it’s machinery shipped overseas and it’s buildings demolished.

An interested bystander such as myself doesn’t need to be an Einstein to guess that the meat of the scallop is the high value end of the process. Most of it will find itself in the posh restaurants of France and Spain while their national debt issues puts them deeper in hock to the European Union and the larger scallop shells have also got a market value as decorations after sterilising.

The smaller queenies are a different animal and after removal of the meat the shells would appear to have little value. Some have been crushed and found their way onto farm and forestry roads but I believe there is a limiting factor here. The end result is that they are either tipped back into the Irish Sea outwith the Dee estuary or stockpiled – but – that might not be the case any more for rubbing shoulder with this little lobster boat and scallop dredges at the quay wall today —

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we had the two hundred foot Montivideo registered barge the River Pride —

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With hatches nailed down she is waiting for the tide to take her down-river and out to sea. Her cargo? I understand she is loaded with queenie shells and the last time I saw a barge like this she was powering up through the Loreli Gorge on the River Rhine bound for Switzerland —

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Ok – that particular barge in the last photo was heading downriver but what goes up must come down – same thing unless you are the skipper. Gottit?

I digress – our barge stuffed with bare queenie shells sitting on the mud by the quay wall this morning has the same pair of ‘big brute’ motors that my Rhine barge had —

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For the robust old bargee leaning on the stern rail English wasn’t his first – or forty first language come to that but he did say his destination was Rotterdam – or was it Amsterdam?

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If it was the latter this could possibly be a Rhine barge and it wouldn’t surprise me if the enterprising Swiss sold our re-modelled queenie shells back to us as part of the ingredients for false teeth or suchlike. After all I can remember when I was involved with the Skye marble quarry at a particular take over and was intrigued to learn that one of the many uses for Skye Marble was to be ground down and added to the mix in certain brands of toothpaste.

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Doesn’t life improve when the sun shines – and Andy Murray wins Wombledon. Was embarrassed though to see our chief puddock, Alec Salmond making a complete prat of himself by pulling the saltire out of his wifies handbag in the Royal Box at the moment of victory.

Nothing like ‘seizing the moment’ eh Alec 🙂

Justa Minute! There’s more to follow after a Quick Edit;

Seems my fanciful suggestion that we might see our queenie shells returned to us as Swiss false teeth is just that – fanciful!

The word on the street tonight is that the queenie bits were destined for Rotterdam where they would be processed and fed to Dutch chickens so there is more chance they will arrive back here on Tesco shelves as egg shells.

I preferred my solution to the disposal of queenie shell problem 🙂

She Sells Sea shells from the Sea Shore

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Posted by on July 9, 2013 in out and about


Solway Tide

Solway Tide – in this case it’s the bistro cum café I’m referring to. Tidy and old fashioned in the interior and street frontage —

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But I had biznez through the alley this morning and stumbled on a hidden gem in the sunshine out back. There’s a tree shaded garden with a few scattered tables but what caught my eye this morning was the mural taking place on the south facing back wall —

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An artistic couple are giving the old place a Mediterranean flavour with their choice of colours as they paint the sunflowers while on the right we have a typical Scottish hill shepherd and his collie dug in the hills with his flock —

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The only thing lacking with their shepherd is a puff of pipe smoke and it could have been my father-in-law who spent a lifetime as a shepherd in the hills above Loch Awe and Loch Lomond.

Callum had started smoking a pipe as a ten year’s old schoolboy and lived till he was 83. I fondly remember the early days when I courted his daughter and would be regaled with a lifetime of tales of herding sheep on the old drove roads to Dalmally market as we drank dram after dram in the old bar at Inversnaid Hotel. As well as being a midgie deterrent an occasional puff of pipesmoke under the blankets was apparently a surefire way to pacify the fleas in some of the hovels around Port Sonachan where they would overnight on the two day drive to market 🙂

Solway Tide

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Posted by on July 9, 2013 in out and about


Tropical Garden

Tropical Garden – that’s what you get when you leave it to it’s own devices for a couple of days.

I have harvested so many heads from the peony rose yet she continues to pump em out. She has the makings of a legend and at over twenty years old probably is already except that until this year she has been hiding in a thicket of weeds —

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I think the peony will be past her best by next week but no worries – cos the sunflowers are taking off and will no doubt be in bloom soon —

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As will the butterfly friendly buddlia – bottom of previous pic and hopefully in this next one —

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At one end of the garden the thistle is rampant —

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and the marigold blooms are going berserk —

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While at the other end the coton-easter is showing one tiny white flower towards bottom – centre but I’m sure there’s more to come as she looks so fit —

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and the cool grey lips on the streetside slope have grown and are holding their own —

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which is quite an undertaking sited where it is – as a contrast between two gorgeous fuschia shrubs —

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Even the simple heathers and small alpines growing around the now laid-back ‘Screaming Tree’ don’t look out of place at all – especially up that end sandwiched between a couple of clumps of butterfly friendly greenery which would probably look more at home beneath a hedge somewhere —

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There are a few dahlias in the mix which are beginning to show —

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Just one more time for the peony – she has such a short season but is so beautiful with it —

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Tropical Garden

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Posted by on July 8, 2013 in out and about


Jedburgh Common Riding

Jedburgh Common Riding or The Jethart Callant’s Festival as it is known locally is halfway through. All the Border towns have their week of Common Riding when they choose a worthy leader (Callant means ‘Youth’ in Border tongue) from the young men of the toon and patrol the burgh boundaries on horseback. But – Jedburgh does things different – they hold it over two weeks.

I had travelled over to nearby Kelso for a motorcycle show and rally on Saturday and because I have been ‘proper poorly’ recently I looked for a B&B to split my journey and do the return leg on Sunday. Kelso accommodation prices seemed a bit over the top – so – being in frugal mode I moved sixteen miles down the road and found a really nice place to stay in Jedburgh just a few miles north of the Scottish/English border crossing point at Carter Bar on the A68.

While I waited with the crowd outside the Carter’s Rest for the riders to return victorious from some far-flung outpost of their jurisdiction I got myself a glass of cider from the bar and filled my time taking a few photos of the striking ruins of Jedburgh Cathedral across the road —

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The stonework had a warm glow in the early evening sunlight —

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One more shot before the riders return —

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Ok – just one more —

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Then the riders appeared after a sweaty day in the hills being Border Raiders and were led into town by the Silver Band  —

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Raiders come in all shapes and sizes —

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including the brave wee one on a Shetland pony —Jed 042

The horses were followed by a team of hardy walkers who had no doubt opened gates and controlled traffic at road crossings en-route —

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An even bigger team of mountain bikers came next doing whatever mountain biker’s do —

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While right at the back were the rescue/medical team to pick up the fallen and make sure that none were left behind —

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Sixty years ago I was one of the young cyclist’s who would tend the horses as their thirsty riders would take a dram or two at the pubs in outlying villages. It was a merry throng who would ride back into town after a hot day in the saddle – but – with the old gaol right next to the abbey there was room for virtuous and miscreants both 🙂

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See what I mean 🙂

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Jedburgh Common Riding

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Posted by on July 7, 2013 in out and about


A Tenere Too Far

A Tenere too far?  Or not far enough in my opinion. With good weather forecast for the weekend and a call from my biker mates to join them on their trip over to Kelso for the BMF Show I have been trying to put a few miles under my tyres in the hope that I would be bike fit for the job.

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Even without the added incentive of joining my friends at the weekend how could I not enjoy being out here in the Galloway Hills on an evening like this —

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Well I’ve got to admit I was glad of the excuse to stop —

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even if I missed that shot on the ‘auto’ setting as I wasn’t having one of my best days.

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The going was easy —

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but I should have stayed home and looked after my roses —

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It pains me to admit it but I reckon the two hundred mile plus round trip to Kelso and back that I would have done before breakfast last year is out of my comfort zone at the mo’ – just a tad too far 🙂

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A Tenere Too Far

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Posted by on July 3, 2013 in Uncategorized



Tenere Takes an Evening Ride

I can only park the bikes up for so long before the need to ride takes over and I point one of them down the road. Tonight it was the Tenere that was in favour and I took her round to Palnackie where the Waters of Urr meet the Solway Firth.

It’s usually a picturesque spot down by what passes for a harbour but tonight it’s a construction site and could possibly be a sewerage works sometime soon. I hope not because it was a lovely spot by the tidal part of the river where I’ve been known to stop for a photo in the past —

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That is definitely an old picture of the Tenere as she is wearing an alloy deflector plate that I cobbled up in an attempt to stop the turbulent air whistling up behind the screen on long autobahn hauls. There was a downside to wearing that deflector as it made an already flighty Tenere in crosswinds even more so and could be downright dangerous so my handiwork was consigned to the scrap bin after one particular blustery ride which saw me fighting to keep her on the road at speed.

Tonight – after filling up with cheepo fuel at Dalbeatie I decided to follow the Urr up into the Galloway Hills with a stop or two for pics on the way. It was the wind ravaged tree that caught my eye on this occasion – she must suffer the same fate as my Tall Tenere on a windy day —

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It wasn’t long before the Water of Urr dwindled to not-a-lot —

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but there was a fine loch up here in the hills that kept the water flowing —

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From this angle the Tenere looks as if she should have ‘Wide Load’ boards but she isn’t nearly as fat as some of the ‘Adventure Bikes’ I see on the road these days —

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And why is she wearing her panniers? Cos I’m building up for a trek to somewhere – soon. It’s the first of July already and if I don’t get my act together I will miss this summer.

Was heading home at a rate of knots when I had a close call just up the road from where this next pic was taken —

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A roe deer intent on committing hari-kari came bounding over the roadside hedge and wasn’t too far off my front wheel. At least I had my proper bike gear on tonight so I would probably have come off lightly even if the Tenere was to suffer a few blows 🙂

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I enjoyed my ride and I’m pleased I didn’t sell the Tenere earlier in the year – she’s a good bike,

Tenere Tracks the Water of Urr

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Posted by on July 1, 2013 in Uncategorized